By Tim Holland
Maidens go a mile on turf here and #5 Astoundment (6-1) makes her first start since fading to finish unplaced over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland last April. Daughter of 14% grass sire Kitten’s Joy is out of a daughter of Diana (G2) winner Wonder Again. 4-year-old’s recent works include a sharp 4-furlong move in :47 4/5 a week ago for trainer Toner who wins with a solid 16% of runners that have not raced for 90 days or more. Filly can be along from off the pace with Gaffalione up.
A full field of maidens lines up here including #7 Center Aisle (5-2), a debuting daughter of 15% first-out sire Into Mischief out of a half-sister to two-time Pacific Classic (G1) winner Skimming. Filly cost $1.5 million last year and posted a bullet 4-furlong work in :48 1/5 from the gate eight days ago for trainer Brown who wins with 20% of his first-time starters. Bay appears ready to win at first asking with Rosario taking the mount.
Trainer Todd Pletcher wins with 30% of his runners that have not raced for 90 days or more and saddles #12 Dr Post (3-1) who has not been seen since finishing fourth in his debut at Belmont in July behind Green Light Go who finished second in the Champagne (G1) two starts later. Son of Quality Road is out of a Grade 2-winning mare and has been working well for Pletcher who has won with 23% of starters this meet. Dark bay can be in good position throughout with Velazquez up.
#11 Westerland (12-1) drops in class off a never-threatening unplaced effort over 7 1/2 furlongs in January and tries claiming company for the first time. Son of excellent turf sire Frankel has won two of 13 starts on grass and makes his third outing for trainer Maker who wins with 21% of his runners first time for a tag. Gelding figures to be tough at this level under Lopez who has won with three of last 12 rides for this barn.
Full field of maidens line up for the finale over a mile on turf and trainer Casse saddles debuting #12 Pop a Choc (8-1). Daughter of Bernardini is a half-sister to two winners including Airoforce, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Gray cost $330K as a yearling and has been working well for Casse who wins with 16% of his first-time starters and with 16% of his runners on grass. Rider Gaffalione will try to work out a good trip from the outside post.
Newcomer #6 Luscious (12-1) has a good win early pedigree being by young sire Race Day, whose offspring have won 17% of their first outings and out of mare by 13% debut sire Candy Ride. Trainer Williamson has had a slow meet to date, which may promote some value, but wins with 11% of his first-time starters. Chestnut’s works include a decent 3-furlong move in :36 2/5 from the gate here and Rocco takes the mount.
A competitive field of 10 allowance runners lines up here including #6 Wilbo (6-1) who has a record of 13-3-3-2 on this oval. Son of Candy Ride was last seen when fading to finish fifth in a stakes over the track and distance early last month for trainer Hartman who wins with 17% of runners that have not raced for 46-90 days. Chestnut has posted four good works since his last outing and can get a good trip from just off a solid pace with Elliot in the saddle.
Trainer Hamm wins with 21% of his runners making their first start in maiden claiming events and saddles #7 Sea Lover (15-1), a debuting son of 16% first-out sire Midshipman. Dark bay has been working steadily for Hamm who has won with 17% of his runners since the beginning of last year and gelding may be ready to win at first asking with Suarez riding.